Ecommerce Terms Glossary

Due to the articulate nature of the Internet, the language associated with ecommerce website design continues to grow at a fast pace. Many visitors whether they possess Internet savvy or not, may find themselves confused the first time they talk to a professional web design company or ecommerce web designer. The following are terms, acronyms and Internet slang that are used in relation to ecommerce website design.


Above the Fold - This refers to everything on a web page that one can see without scrolling down. You will want your most important information above the fold.

Affiliate Program - An automated marketing program where webmasters to place a merchant's banner ads or buttons on their own Web site. Webmasters then receive a commission when someone clicks the affiliate link and performs the desired action.

Applet - Applet refers to short programs, usually written in the Java language, especially for Internet. Ecommerce website design may use Java applets for multiple functions, including the look and feel, but also for feedback forms or questionnaires.


Bandwidth – This refers to the amount of data a network connection can handle. For complicated, heavy ‘bandwidth’ sites – a high speed connection is necessary for the ecommerce website design to be fully appreciated and utilized.

Banner Ad - A banner ad is normally a rectangular advertisement placed on a Web site either above, below or on the sides of the Web site's main content.

Banner Ad Rotator - A program that randomly rotates the banner ads on a Web site with the result of a different banner ad nearly every time the site is visited or refreshed. Rotated banner ads are often less expensive than static ads.

Brand - Your brand is the cultivation of a feeling. It is the emotional response of your customer to you, your company and its products/services.

Brand Identity - Your brand identity is the graphical and verbal representation of your brand. It is the way you communicate your brand promise to the world.

B2B – This means business-to-business. Businesses that sell to other businesses fit in this category.

B2C – This means business to consumer. Businesses that sell to consumers fit into this category.


Common Gateway Interface (CGI) – Common Gateway Interface is a program that takes information gathered from users in a web page form and then funnels it to databases for processing. Ecommerce website design may use this feature for building customer databases on ecommerce sites.

CPA - In ecommerce, CPA stands for Cost Per Action.

CPI - CPI stands for cost per impression.

CTR - CTR is the acronym for Click Through Rate. It is used in internet advertising.


Demographics – Visitor information gathered for the sole purpose of optimizing a website. This information may include gender, age group, profession, income levels, computer systems and connection speed. This information should only be gathered for optimizing purposes and should never be made available to anyone else.

Doorway Pages - Web pages that are search engine optimized, but provide links or redirection to other pages that contain the actual content. Doorway pages were a popular SEO technique for ecommerce website design and others.


Ecommerce – Business conducted on the Internet. The commerce transactions take place over the internet.


Image Map – An image that contains multiple links. By moving the mouse pointer to different parts of the image and clicking, information may be obtained.

Internet Merchant Account - In order to take online payments, when you don't physically swipe a credit card, you need an Internet merchant account. This account can be issued by your bank or by a host of companies, such as Merchant Warehouse, that offer Internet merchant accounts. It's important to note that if you already have a merchant account for your store or business, you will need to get an Internet account as they are different. This account will include a set-up fee and some % per transaction fee.
Most banks only provide merchant accounts for Visa and MasterCard. It is a very good idea to offer American Express and Discover card payment options. In order to do this you need to contact American Express and Discover and activate accounts. Once you have this information you can provide it to your merchant account provider's payment processor to process all four cards in the same account.


MWR - This stands for "most wanted response" The MWR is what you want your visitors to do. It might be to subscribe or make a purchase.


Opt-In Mailing List – A mailing list that allows subscribers to sign up by just entering their email address into a form. A confirmation email is usually sent and must be responded to before user is added to the list.


PPC - PPC is the acronym for Pay Per Click. It is a way that companies can charge for advertisements on the internet.

Professional Web Design – An individual or company that specializes in building web pages and web sites for optimum performance. From the mechanics to content providers, a professional web design takes into account a variety of factors and features to deliver a professional, easy to use and visually pleasing website.


Real Time Processing - If you are selling goods that are available to download immediately you will also need what is known as real time processing from your secure processor. This is simply a connection that gets a credit card transaction approved or declined in real time as a customer places an order.


SE - SE is the acronym for Search Engine. A search engine is the tool used to search websites. Google is a search engine.

SEM - SEM is an acronym for Search Engine Marketing-the process of advertising in search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The process of increasing the amount of visitors to a Web site by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that site will be visited by a user. It is common practice for Internet users to not click through pages of search results, so where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic toward the site.

Secure Payment Gateway - Since Internet traffic is susceptible to eavesdropping you will need a secure payment gateway that allows your customer's credit card data to be secure as they place orders. You want to make sure that this part of the process works with your merchant account and your shopping cart. I would stick with one of the leading gateway providers. This would include, VeriSign and SkipJack. There is a fee for this service as well. It is important that you communicate who your gateway provider is to your merchant account provider.

Shopping Cart – Shopping carts come in software and hosted service based versions that allow your customers to shop for multiple items and then pass the order to your payment system by way of checkout. This service is very important if you have multiple products available on your web site. There are some very stable, fully functioning shopping carts that are free or very low cost. Some leading cart systems include osCommerce, Zen Cart, and 1ShoppingCart. I must repeat that you need to make sure that your shopping cart is supported by your payment gateway and vice versa - just ask.

SERP - SERP is the acronym for search engine results page. A SERP is the web page that shows you the results of you search.


Third Party Processing - This can be used instead of a merchant account. In this approach, the third party provider may offer all of the processing and no merchant account is required. The drawback to this approach is that you generally pay a higher overall fee per transaction and have limited ability to customize your customer's check out experience to match your website. PayPal, an eBay company, is the largest provider of this approach and is a very acceptable option.


URL - URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A URL is the address of a website. Example: is a URL. (That is my domain name.)


Virtual Terminal - A virtual terminal is an add-on service that comes with your Internet merchant account. This allows you to take phone orders or in-person workshop orders and then go to a secure Internet based site and process the orders into your account.


This glossary contains contributions from a number of authors. You will find them listed below.

Mark Nenadic

Mark is the director and face behind FifteenDegrees-North , where you will find articles and resources to help with SEO, marketing and Web design.

John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing coach, author and creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System. You can get more information about the Duct Tape System and download your free copy of How To Grow Your Small Business Like Crazy by visiting

Nate Desmond

Nate runs Build Your Own Ecommerce Website! (The website that you are currently on!), which contains articles, tips, and tools to help you start your own ecommerce website.

Kelly O'Neil

For more information , or to subscribe to receive your UpLevel Strategies complimentary Business Mastery Success Kit ($997 Value) filled with countless tips and resources for creating more profit in your business , visit